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Poster: Liamfinnegan Date: Apr 29, 2007 3:39pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: What makes a best of for me? I will start with Scarlet Begonias > Fire

While the criteria for outstanding versions of songs have a lot in common, certain songs have a uniqueness to them, for me, in the way the players approach their playing.

Great versions of jam songs have one thing in common for me that stands above all- the best way I can describe this is to say that the band reaches a point in a great jam where they sound like one instrument with 6 distinct parts- the players lines coalesce so that it appears that everything is happening simultaneously and it becomes difficult to pick out an individual instrument- with a bit of poetic license here

So scarlet begonias. All the ones I love have a commonality that is again difficult to put into words- but I will try. The best way to describe this is that Garcia is creating musical poetry on the fly- in great scarlets Jerry will state a musical theme- a distinct series of lines that act as a foreshadow of later in the jam- a great case in point is 7-7-89- I will come back to this and give the timings later- he introduces a theme in the beginning of the transition jam- he then goes a lot of different places- but each of the places is leading him back to the restatement of the theme during the climax of the jam.

He does this wonderfully in the fantastic versions- and what is more interesting is that sometimes the theme is composed and recomposed during a series of scarlets over a period of weeks. Try all the scarlet begonias from June of 82 until the 8th of August

Many say the 7-31-82 is the big daddy of this "arc" of scarlets- but I like the one right before it better, 7-25-82. And the best of them all might be 8-6-82. Listen to them all and you will hear the common themes being tried out.

Sometimes you will hear themes played a few years after he first tried them- it is interesting to hear the evolution.

Not to leave out the rest of the band- great scarlets have the drummers pushing the transition along and the best ones have great cowbell! Phil stands back a little in the great scarlets- not playing dueling lead so much as he does in many other songs- he chooses to accent the drummers more. Brent in the best scarlets will hook up with jerrys main theme and start introducing neat sounds to go along with him- I especially love the "gong" sounds in 82 and the huge church bells as I call them in the 3-22-90 version.

Rather than go on any longer, suffice to say that I feel a great scarlet is made great by the sense of poetry the band has- musical poetry


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Poster: lobster12 Date: Apr 29, 2007 4:47pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What makes a best of for me? I will start with Scarlet Begonias > Fire

without getting too much into detail i think the same can be said about bird song

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Poster: deadmax Date: Apr 29, 2007 5:08pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What makes a best of for me? I will start with Scarlet Begonias > Fire

When they want to, they can make Bird Song into a Dark Star where they go and experiment and talk to each other and explore and make us buy more tickets for the "next time". Bird Song is always a joy.

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Poster: BryanE Date: Apr 29, 2007 4:57pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What makes a best of for me? I will start with Scarlet Begonias > Fire

I saw my share of Scarlet Fires, and one would be hard-pressed to find anything else in the repertoire that better typified the Grateful Dead's sound. It think it would be equally difficult to find anyone who doesn't rank the jam among their favorites. Those who want to disagree with that, feel free.

The best one I ever saw was at the old Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis on 7/8/81. You can sample it if you want, but the sound quality on this is pretty poor:

http://www.archive.org/details/gd81-07-08.neumann.munder.13301.sbeok.shnf

At one point in between the songs, it took on a quality not unlike the passage in the Live Dead Dark Star that comes at the end of the jam's most dissonant sequence before the music resolves going into "Mirror shatters . . . " Jerry plays repetitive, almost screeching notes in the upper register as the music seems to suspend for a moment without a discernible time signature. I was hypnotized.

This post was modified by BryanE on 2007-04-29 23:57:21